As the campaign for the New Hampshire primary moved into its final three weeks, high-flying Republican candidate George Bush swept through Boston yesterday but refused to predict victory in the February 26 contest.
"I don't want to elevate expectations beyond my ability to perform," Bush, whom a recent Boston Globe poll predicted would win the primary, said at a press conference at the Park Plaza Hotel.
At the conference, former Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson '41 endorsed Bush's candidacy for the Republican nomination. Richardson said he is "absolutely confident that I will not be embarrassed" by the endorsement, citing Bush's tenure as director of the Central Intelligence Agency as "a period in which abuses were being corrected."
Bush, who narrowly won last month's Iowa caucus, said that even if he defeats former California Gov. Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire face-off, Reagan will not be finished. "Reagan has latent strength in the West," he said.
Answering questions ranging from the hostage situation in Iran to his opinion on cutbacks in social services, Bush chose his words carefully.
"I don't think we are headed for a war," the former envoy to Peking said, but added that Soviet Premier Leonid I. Breznhev "has a peculiar way of showing he wants detente."
Criticizing President Carter for knocking out improvements in defense equipment, Bush supported registration of young people for the draft, and said women should be included in any such legislation.
Bush said he shares the increasing frustration of the families of the Americans held hostage in Iran, but added that he does not "believe in setting deadlines" and that there is no simple, easy answer to the crisis.
The recent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the election of Abolhassan Bani-Sadr as president of Iran "offer some hope of freedom for the hostages," he said.
Bush avoided directed comparisons with other Republican candidates' stands on the issues, saying, "I don't want to be part of dividing a minority party."
The former envoy to Peking, originally scheduled to speak at the Kennedy School forum tonight, will probably speak at Harvard on March 3, Jonathan Moore, director of the Institute of Politics, said yesterday.
Moore, who attended the conference said he is not actively supporting any candidate. "I'm just an avid watcher of political campaigns," he added.